Pokhara int’l airport in limbo

Rup Narayan Dhakal

Pokhara, June 29:

Following the government’s decision to develop Gautam Buddha airport at Lumbini as an international airport, the project that was in offing in Pokhara for establishing another international airport here, has been sidelined.

The government’s decision is not rational accuse residents of Pokhara, which has started constructing an airport at Bhairahawa by investing tens of millions of rupees on acquiring land alone, instead of utilizing the land which is already available at Pokhara.

“As soon as the concerned minister changes, decisions too are affected according to the preference of a given minister,” former president of FNCCI and member of Pokhara airport construction, Ananda Raj Mulmi, said.

“Resource, feasibility study and financial viability show that Pokhara is suitable location for building an international airport,” he added. Rather than pursuing a sustainable policy for development of infrastucture, decisions change depending on ministers,” he alleged.

Basu Dev Parajuli, a local tourism entrepreneur, suggested that airport construction in Pokhara could well be completed with the money the government is investing on acquiring land alone at Bhairahawa.

The government had acquired 2,921 ropanis of land in ward number 14, 15, and 18 of the sub-metropolitan city of Pokhara 30 years ago in 1975.

Earlier, the government had invited participation from private investors for building, operating, owning and transferring (BOOT) of an international airport at Pokhara.

But implementation has been delayed as the government has lacked resolve, officials at the airport construction committee complained.

The total area coverage and runway in the Bhairahawa airport will be small, compared to the proposed airport at Pokhara, concerned technicians said.